There has been some fiery debate recently in this country about how public religious proclomations can be. In particular, many legal groups have been nudging the judicial branch towards the absolute separation between church and state, setting off a fierce backlash from conservative religious groups. The US Supreme court is currently hearing arguments as to this issue.
I have a hard time understanding how someone could not see the logic behind the seperation between church and state. It is respectful to people of every faith, ensures there will not be a government persecution of certain religious sects, keeps issues of goverance directed by principles that are best for the nation (instead of guided by a certain set of mythological precepts), and best of all, enshrined in the constitution. Of course, it has become commonplace to bend the bill of rights lately, whether its first ammendment free speech and press issues, gun rights, or this. And the simple fact is, right or wrong, a politician will get much more mileage by publicly pronouncing his strong faith (in essence advocating abdicating a secular government for one that publically promotes one particular religion or sect).
Thus, the situation today in many situations.
1. "one nation...under god" in the pledge of allegiance. Originally implanted artificially in the McCarthy era (1950's) as anti-communist propoganda, the words 'under god' have remained imbedded for 50 years. As someone who is non religious, yes, these words offend me. How would most christians feel if the pledge stated, "one nation, there are no gods, indivisible..."? probably just as I do.
2. In god we trust. Same thing. How would any believer in monotheistic religions (mainly christian, jewish, and muslim) like it if the majority of americans were non atheistic and printed "We trust there are no gods" on every coin and note circulated in the country?
3. Religious monuments on political grounds. Highlighted by the 10 Commandments statue in Alabama, this shows how far religious panderers will go if left unchecked.
4. Religion in schools. I put up with many religious elements in my public (and supposedly secular) schooling. For instance, every wednesday, for the first 2 hours of school, you could go to church instead. It was called 'wednesday school'. If a parent chose to not send their kids to church this time, they could go to a wonderfully painful study hall, with no talking. Wohoo. How about everyone thinking I was spoiling the day by not standing for the highly religious convocation in my graduation ceremony. I was adamant, but really had to stand by my convictions against a strong torrent of social pressure to do so. Some teachers had religious cutouts for holidays, others taught religion under the guise of forein language instruction, one way or another, it seeped in and was a daily reminder that the separation between church and state was not really enforced at all.
What this boils down to is persecution, pure and simple. Would the tables be turned, would christians not feel oppressed? Just because a majority believes in something does not mean that they can thrust their views on the minority. To do so would mean that our American democracy is really nothing more than a tyrrany of the majority, and this I cannot accept. The next time some self serving politician decrees, "and god bless America", remember this.